UCF Men's Basketball Falls at UAB, 60-52

Coach Speraw (InsideKnights.com)

After nearly topping Memphis last week, the UCF men's basketball team could not defeat another one of Conference USA's best squads Tuesday as UAB rallied for a 60-52 win over the Knights at Bartow Arena. Senior guard Jermaine Taylor (Tavares, Fla.) paced UCF (10-6, 0-2 C-USA) with 18 points.

The Blazers, who improved to 10-6 overall and 1-1 in conference play, used a 17-0 run to end the game to post the victory. UCF led by 10 with 10:35 remaining in the game after Taylor hit a pair of free throws. After that, UCF scored just seven points the rest of the way.

Robert Vaden, who led all players with 19 points, gave the hosts the lead for good with 1:21 left when he hit three free throws after being fouled by Taylor. The trio of foul shots gave the Blazers a 53-52 advantage.

On the ensuing UCF possession, freshman guard A.J. Rompza (Chicago, Ill.) missed a runner and the Blazers hit seven free throws down the stretch.

"We were not poised. We did not have the poise and composure that we needed to have," UCF head coach Kirk Speraw said. "We weathered the storm early. I was very proud of our guys early. It was just a lack of poise in critical situations."

UCF had just two assists with 13 turnovers in the final 20 minutes of the game.

After the Blazers raced out to a 9-2 lead, the Knights used a 24-9 run over a 10-minute span to grab control of the game. Taylor had nine points during the spurt, which he began with a layup at the 15:38 mark. Sophomore forward A.J. Tyler (Palm Harbor, Fla.) scored eight points in the run, which he capped with a basket inside with 5:33 on the clock that handed the Knights a 26-18 edge.

UAB got within three points with three minutes left in the half, but sophomore guard Taylor Young (Orlando, Fla.) helped the Knights grab a 29-23 advantage with 2:48 remaining when he banked in a 3-point shot as the 35-second clock expired. Taylor scored the final points of the half with a layup on a fastbreak with 1:26 to go and UCF took a 31-24 lead into intermission.

UCF shot 46.4 percent overall in the opening half and limited the Blazers to a 28.1 percent showing from the floor.

The contest served as UCF's first C-USA road game of the year.

Taylor was the lone UCF player who ended the game with double-digits in scoring. Senior center Kenrick Zondervan (Hoofddorp, Holland) totaled a team-high nine rebounds for the Knights.

UCF shot 43.8 percent overall for the game, but made just 4-of-18 (22.2 percent) from deep.

The Knights held UAB to a 33.3 percent shooting effort for the contest. In addition to 14 points, Lawrence Kinnard led all players with 14 rebounds in the win.

The Knights will return to action Saturday at Rice. The squad's next game at the UCF Arena is slated for Wednesday, Jan. 21 against Southern Miss.

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